Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called the Malaysian prime minister and offered two RAAF Orion aircraft for the search and rescue operation.
Two aircraft are being dispatched from Darwin tonight.
“This is a tragic mystery as things stand but Australia will do what it can to help get to the bottom of this, to that end we have dispatched two P3 Orion aircraft to assist Malaysia with the search and rescue operation,” Mr Abbott told The Daily Telegraph.
“These aircraft carry highly specialised sonar equipment and are the best aircraft to locate material from an aircraft.”
His comments followed the Prime Minister speaking on behalf of the nation to say thoughts are with the passengers and families of those on the missing flight.
Queensland couples Catherine and Robert Lawton and Mary and Rodney Burrows, and Sydneysiders Li Yuan and Gu Naijun, are among the 239 passengers on board the flight which disappeared between Malaysia’s east coast and southern Vietnam.
Mr Abbott described the tragedy as a “horrible, horrible business”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and their families on that ill-fated aircraft, particularly to the six Australian passengers and their families, that have now been confirmed to be on board,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
“We’re looking at ways in which we can help with the search and recovery operation.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten echoed Mr Abbott’s comments.
“I believe the Australian nation’s thoughts go out to the families of those Australians and New Zealanders that are on this plane, and indeed the families of everyone,” he told reporters in Melbourne.